Proofreading Tips ~Avoid Those Embarassing Mistakes~
If your written work reads like a comedy of errors (It doesn’t even matter if the content is original and valuable) your readers (i.e. your audience, prospective publishers, and even your competitors) will automatically focus on the mistakes and your credibility will slip away.
Proofreading is an incredible step to preserving your credibility and it keeps your reader’s attention positively focused on you, your original content, and your quality message.
Here are some proofreading tips you can use to avoid making those embarrassing mistakes:
- Brush Up: You may consider getting a grammar guide, subscribing to grammar newsletters, or even enrolling in an English Grammar course. Continue exploring the English language, discovering every nuance to improve your articles, and applying your findings in your articles.
- Breathing Room: Before you proofread, walk away from the article. Proofread after giving the article and you a little breathing room.
- Style Guide: From proper capitalization to accurate citations, style guides such as APA, Chicago, MLA, The Associate Press, etc. are used to ensure writing is consistent and credible.
- Perspective: Change the format/environment you originally wrote the article. For example: change your font, read from the bottom-up, change your screen size, etc. to focus on areas you may unknowingly skip over.
- Spell Check: Most spell check options (i.e. from Microsoft Word, Internet Browser add-ons, etc.) will indicate spelling (red underline), grammatical (green underline), and formatting (blue underline) errors. (NOTE: Spell checkers are not fail-safe. A critical human eye is more powerful and more accurate than many spell checkers.)
- Remove Emoticons: While emoticons and text-speak have their place in the instant messaging world (e.g. LOL b4 u go dont u hve 2 rite ur arcles? ), not all audiences understand it. Also, text-speak is too informal for many audiences.
- Misused Words: Keep an eye out for commonly misused words (many of which are homophones), e.g. affect vs. effect, loose vs. lose, its vs. it’s, ensure vs. insure, etc.
- Punctuation Marks: Take a bird’s eye view of your article. Consider the formatting and punctuation: is there too much indicating clipped sentences or too little indicating run-on sentences? Also, avoid excessive exclamation points or overdone ellipses and watch out for missing or inappropriately used apostrophes.
- Error Wall of Shame: Keep a proofreading checklist of common blunders and areas you (or others) have caught before. Some people will hang their blunders in their writing space as reminders. Others will create a checklist and search for the errors. Actively learning your errors should prevent them from occurring again.
- Question Everything: If something sounds or appears odd to you, trust your instincts and ask for a second opinion or look it up. Ask someone to review your articles to catch errors and other discrepancies you might have missed.
Here’s a great video for a laugh…
PS: You guessed it! I do offer proofreading services if you don’t have the time, desire or if you just need a second pair of eyes to review your work.